I go where you would rather not. And so it is that I have made my way to that little part of the Online Opinion blog reserved for the writings of Julie Bishop.
As Australia’s alternative Foreign Minister you would expect her views to be sophisticated, nuanced and well-developed about the current Foreign Policy issues of the day.
So it was for this reason that I went looking to see what her original output had been since her Fake Australian Passport faux pas.
I think it only fair and reasonable that we scrutinise those who would wish to govern us this year, as we don’t want them to just ‘Do a Bradbury’, and skate in to office off the back of other’s missteps, that is for sure.
So let’s just take a look at what she has written recently.
On Thursday, January 17, 2013 she penned:
‘Social Instability & the Price of Energy’
Now, stung by criticism that this blog is just another Liberal bashfest site, I have personally resolved that I will give a fair audience to any Liberal material that I review and present here for your consideration. And so it is with this piece by Julie Bishop.
In fact, I am going to give it ‘The Curate’s Egg Award’. Stinky in parts, but good in others. So those parts of her post that are good I will leave without any comment, and when you read it you can assume my approval of those parts as a result.
However, if, upon reading it yourself, you find something to object to and quibble about, go right ahead! I will just concern myself with pointing out the statements and assumptions that concerned me.
Why don’t we start with the first sentence then?
The optimism in many quarters over the wave of uprisings that began in late 2010 against authoritarian rule in many Middle East and North African countries has thus far failed to translate into positive developments in the region.
Now, I’m not an incredibly well-informed foreign policy analyst, but even I know that, since emancipation from the tyrants that ruled them in the nations of Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Yemen & Tunisia, those places have essentially been quiescent and coming to terms with their emerging democracies. Such as they are, to be sure, with their still occurring but infrequent public attacks by one or other of the disgruntled, formerly-powerful minorities, against the new majority power, who now rule them.
However, they have been democratically-elected.
Therefore I beg to differ with Ms Bishop’s conclusion that the ‘Arab Spring’ and the routing of the tyrants from Iraq, Afghanistan, et al., are not ‘positive developments in the region’ of the Middle East & North Africa.
Also, I find it ‘interesting’ to read Ms Bishop ‘tut-tutting’ at the fact that the best efforts of Syria’s citizens to ride the flowering of the Arab Spring has not translated into an outcome similar to those other countries like Egypt, that did a lot of protesting, employed social media effectively as a weapon against their former rulers, got the Army onside, and Voila! Democracy. Although I suspect it may also have had something to do with a fully-formed Opposition of long-standing in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, and in Iraq with the Kurds and Shia, and in Afghanistan with the Northern League who formed the basis of the Karzai government. Versus a virtually non-existent Opposition in Syria, which therefore had to come out of nowhere, and organise to fight the Army, who were/ are still on the side of the brutal dictator and using all the military tools at their disposal.
Ms Bishop also appears not to have caught up with the news that ‘several Opposition groups, some of which have links to Al Qaeda and other extremist organisations’, have been weeded out by Hillary Clinton and the American State Department recently. So are no longer part of the formal Opposition. Even if they may still have infiltrated the fighting going on against the Assad regime. A fine distinction, but one which you would expect the Shadow Foreign Minister to have been able to make.
Oh well, when you’re plotting to bring down Julia Gillard, over stale as old biscuits AWU allegations, I guess you just don’t have time to do your day job properly, AND keep up with current developments in real time about the issues you are writing an article about.
Now, the rest of the article goes on to discuss the part low-ball pricing for Energy supply to the population plays in keeping a Social Safety Net under the people of the Gulf States particularly, and how this generally serves to keep the people quiescent as a result. Followed by speculation upon the fact that this cannot go on forever, and that some States are already eating into their foreign capital reserves. So therefore this unnatural subsidy should end.
Fine, as it goes, in a very limited sense. As Ms Bishop fails to look at the other side of the ‘Peak Oil’ coin. That is, the side which says, ‘Renewable Energy’.
So I found it kind of strange, but understandable, considering whose corner Ms Bishop is in, that she could not suggest that these States, also rich in the Renewable commodities of sunshine and wind, should not therefore be putting up the Solar and Wind-Power infrastructure now with the money they are getting from their Fossil Fuel Reserves. That way may also lie a solution to keeping their population permanently ‘Safety-Netted’.
However, ultimately, democracy must also come to them as well.
Sadly, however, the only sort of ‘Energy Diversification’ and Energy Reform that Ms Bishop wants to talk about is from Oil, into Oil Shale Gas and other dirty, CO2-producing forms of Energy Resources.
Which tells you all you need to know, as you look at Ms Bishop’s Middle Eastern and Northern African Foreign Policy perspective, about where the Coalition’s sentiments at a National Government level would be.